Just two years ago, Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon were first-round fantasy superstars at the ages of just 24 and 25, respectively. Fast forward two years and we’re talking about two backs who may fall to the fifth or sixth round.
The reasons are two-fold, but switching teams is never an easy transition as is both these players’ case. Additionally, Gurley has gone through his chronic knee issues the last two seasons while Gordon missed almost all of last year while sitting out, and when he did return, he didn’t do much.
I’ve lost a lot of my passion for Gordon and he’s moved over to my “Stay away” list through the first five rounds but have quickly moved over to the Gurley train this season. If there’s a move that makes the most sense, this is it. Unlike some experts, I do think Gurley has a lot left in the tank and he can still produce great things despite the knee issue which has scared some people away from picking him.
Gurley’s new home in Atlanta puts him close to where he played his college ball at Georgia. It’s simply a more perfect fit for the former pro bowl running back who will be more in his comfort zone. He is also surrounded by supreme talent in Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and a much stronger offensive line than what he had in Los Angeles. This is an offense where Devonta Freeman excelled in his younger days and Gurley is a very similar back, able to make plays with his legs and his hands.
Better yet, there’s no real competition to steal carries away from him. Sorry, but Ito Smith and Brian Hill are not going to jump over Gurley. No, he’s not going to get the touches of Saquan Barkley or Christian McCaffrey, but he’s also not going to be shoved to the side like he was from the end of 2018 to the end of last season. He will be on the field 80 to 90% of the time.
My concern with Gordon is the offense he has around him compared to Gurley. I don’t know what to make of Denver’s offense, especially since losing Emmanuel Sanders last year. A lot will depend on how Drew Lock handles his first full season as the Broncos starting quarterback. It will also depend how rookies Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler develop during the season. Lock is no Philip Rivers from a few years back like Gordon had in San Diego/Los Angeles. He could be down the road, but it’s not going to happen overnight, and this offense is going to take time to grow.
There’s also Phillip Lindsay who is still very much in the picture in Denver. Lindsay is coming off two 1,000-yard seasons and is expected to steal a lot of touches away from Gordon. Whereas Gurley will see the field 80 to 90% of the time, Gordon may see it just 60 to 70%.
When it comes to goal-line touches, again, I have to give the edge to Gurley. He is much more likely to get carries inside the red zone compared to Gordon. Denver will likely use Lindsay and Royce Freeman more in goal-line situations.
Both should excel in PPR leagues more than non-PPR as both are threats in the passing game, but Gurley should see more third down action compared to Gordon.
In the world of fantasy, there is no such thing as a lock. Anything can happen. But I just like the situation Gurley is in a lot more than Gordon. I don’t know if Gordon is going to fit in Denver, but I feel like Gurley definitely does in Atlanta. He seems very content there thus far being close to home and he has a chip on his shoulder with the Rams. The offense around him suits his style as a playmaker so much more. When I think of Denver’s offense, I think of neutral, but when I think of Atlanta’s, I think “Go.” They may not have much of a defense down there, but they sure can score and rack up yards.
While I’m at it, I’ll go out on a limb and make this prediction: Gurley will finish as a top-10 fantasy back by the end of the season.